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The Terror Time

  • (Ewan MacColl / Peggy Seeger)

    The heather will fade, and the bracken will die
    Streams will run cold and clear
    And the small birds will be going
    And it's then that you'll be knowing
    That the terror time has come

    Whaur will ye gang, and whaur will ye bide
    Noo that the work's all done
    And the fairmer doesnae need ye
    And the Cooncil willnae heed ye
    And the terror time has come

    The woods give no shelter, and the trees they are bare
    Snow's lying all around
    And the children they are crying
    For the bed on which they're lying
    Is frozen tae the groond

    When you need the warmth of your own human kind
    You move near a town
    But the sight of you is offending
    For the police they soon are sending
    And you're on the road again

    (as sung by Archie Fisher)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1966:] This song [and others come] from the last of Ewan MacColl's radio ballads, 'The Travelling People', a programme that dealt with the culture and the living conditions of Britain's gypsies, didikais and tinkers, the ordinary people's ignorance of their ways and the shameful intolerance that is shown them. It was one of the most successful of the radio ballads and was the only one which used traditional as well as revival singers. It also had one of the most shocking endings of any radio programme when the Birmingham Councillor, Harry Wottan, J.P., suggested his ultimate solution to Britain's nomad problem: 'There is nothing left for it but to exterminate them,' he said. (Norman Buchan, notes 'The Fisher Family')

  • [1972:] Die umherziehenden irischen Zigeuner, die 'Tinker' oder 'Travelling People' werden zur Erntezeit gerne von Bauern als billige Arbeitskräfte - bei freier Kost und freier Unterkunft - angeworben. Wenn die Ernte eingebracht ist, werden sie stets aufgefordert, weiterzuziehen. Die Zigeuner suchen im Winter die Nähe der Städte, denn in den laublosen Wäldern finden sie keinen Schutz und keine Nahrung mehr. Die Städter fühlen sich vom Anblick der Zigeunerlager in den Vororten ihrer Gemeinden und dem ungeregelten Leben der arbeitslosen oder bettelnden Zigeuner verunsichert. Sie rufen die Polizei, die die Tinker zum Weiterziehen auf den Straßen zwingt. Der Winter ist für die irischen Zigeuner die Zeit des Schreckens, der Angst und Gewalt. (Finbar Furey, notes 'Four Green Fields')

  • [1979:] The majority of the songs on which MacColl's songwriting reputation rests, however, derive from the famous Radio Ballads commissioned by the BBC during the first half of the 1960s. From these eight programmes (and the subsequent six records) came the many magnificent songs still sung by professional and amateur alike. [The Terror Time, The Thirty-Foot Trailer, The Travelling People] and others, whether judged by the standard of folksong, popular song or even art song, are undeniably outstanding achievements. Though [...] MacColl has produced nothing to compare with them for some time now, he remains a major songwriter and a potent influence on the younger generation of composers. (Woods, Revival 122)

  • [1982:] Describes the changes that are taking place in the lives of the Scottish tinkers and English gypsies in the present day. With many of their old occupations gone, and forbidden by law to camp almost anywhere (in an age when camping and caravan sites exist for the rest of society and summer roads are congested with trailers), these people whose lifestyle has been traditionally nomadic are being forced to settle in houses and conform with the ways of the settled community. In Scotland, it is the travellers who have kept our oral tradition of folksong and ballad alive to the present day. (Douglas, Sing a Song of Scotland 5)

  • [1987:] Ewan MacColl is responsible for this, and other fine songs, about the travelling people and their place - or lack of it - in the present world. It was published under the title Winter Song with one more verse, not sung here:

    The shaw winna lift and the stove winna draw
    There's ice in the water churn
    In the mud and snaw you're sloshing
    Trying to do a bit o' washing
    And the kindling winna burn

    [...] "Winter - that's the terror time - no place to go nor doesn't know where to go. Doesn't know any place to go and sit. And it doesn't matter whether it's snowing or blowing. You've got to go." (Maggie Cameron, Inverness travelling woman. Recorded in a bow tent at Cookson's field, Alyth, Perthshire, 1964.)

    I have taken liberties with the repetition of the first verse and word changes therein. Abby created such incredible tension with her cello accompaniment here that a song I have been singing as a lament became much more of an accusation. (Notes 'Jean Redpath')

  • [1990:] When you think about travellers, remember that there are several different groups travelling the roads of Scotland. There are the Romany descendants of nomadic North Indian metal-working tribes who travelled across Europe to reach Scotland four or five hundred years ago. They claimed to have come from Egypt, so were called Egyptians of Gypsies for short. There were broken clans from the 1745 Rebellion, and families forced from their homes in the glens of Sutherland and elsewhere in the North and West during the 19th century Clearances, and freed serfs from much earlier times. Then there are the travelling Show people, who claim a very different descent. All of these groups occasionally make their home on vacant sites in Glasgow. One part of Shettleston is labelled on the map Little Egypt. In their long visit the travellers have experienced much hostility from the settled peoples, who must themselves at some earlier date have been travellers in order to arrive here. And as the travellers picked over the leavings of the earlier arrivals to find and salvage metal, they also found and preserved songs and stories, so that much of Scotland's heritage of song has been recovered by folklorists from traveller singers like Jeannie Robertson and the Stewarts of Blair. (McVicar, One Singer One Song 136)

  • [1991:] 14,2 % der irischen Traveller sterben, bevor sie ein Jahr alt sind. Über ein Drittel erreicht das 15. Lebensjahr nicht. Im Landesdurchschnitt liegen die Zahlen dagegen bei 2,3 % bzw. 3,4 %. Dieser Vergleich spricht Bände. Die Lebensbedingungen der Traveller - meist fehlt es auf den Halteplätzen an fließend Wasser, sanitären Einrichtungen und Strom - passen nicht zu dem Image einer christlichen Wohlfahrtsgesellschaft.

    Vorurteile und Gleichgültigkeit unter der seßhaften Bevölkerung sind das größte Hindernis für Veränderungen. Darüber hinaus erlaubt diese Einstellung es den Politikern, tatenlos zuzusehen und die so dringend notwendigen Einrichtungen in den Bereichen Gesundheit, Bildung und Unterkunft auf die lange Bank zu schieben. Es gibt nicht einmal Gesetze, die Traveller vor Rassismus und Diskriminierung schützen. Die katholische Kirche, eine einflußreiche Institution in der irischen Gesellschaft, schweigt zu dem Thema. Die Traveller selbst haben angesichts des täglichen Überlebenskampfes kaum Zeit und Kraft, für eine Verbesserung ihrer Lage einzutreten.

    Dennoch liegt gerade hier die größte Hoffnung auf Veränderungen. In den letzten Jahren haben sich immer mehr Traveller zu Gruppen zusammengeschlossen, die über ihre Rolle in der irischen Gesellschaft laut nachdenken, Programme zur Erhaltung ihrer kulturellen Identität und ihres Lebensstils entwickeln und auf überregionaler Ebene für die Umsetzung dieser Programme kämpfen.

    Obwohl die Traveller eine klar umrissene ethnische Minderheit in Irland darstellen, sind sie - anders als Roma und Sinti - mit hoher Wahrscheinlichkeit einheimisch. Mit der seßhaften Bevölkerung teilen sie Nationalität, Rasse und Religion. Ihr Ursprung ist schwer nachzuweisen, doch es ist anzunehmen, daß sie als ethnische Gruppe nicht über Nacht aufgetaucht sind, sondern sich über Jahrhunderte entwickelt haben. Möglicherweise stammen sie sogar von der Urbevölkerung Irlands ab: Linguisten haben Übereinstimmungen der Traveller-Sprache 'Shelta' mit der Sprache des vorkeltischen Irland nachgewiesen. Zulauf erhielten die Traveller vermutlich durch die umherziehenden Dichter und Musiker, die in der keltischen Literatur erwähnt sind, und mit Sicherheit durch die zahlreichen Kleinbauern, die im 17. und 19. Jahrhundert gewaltsam von ihren Parzellen vertrieben und dadurch zu einem nomadischen Leben gezwungen wurden.

    Heute gibt es etwa 23.000 Traveller in Irland, doch ihre Zahl steigt aufgrund von Frühehen stetig. Drei Viertel aller Traveller sind unter 25 Jahre alt. Die erweiterte Familie bildet - wie bei Roma und Sinti - eine wirtschaftliche und soziale Einheit. Traveller leben am Rande der Gesellschaft und halten sich durch Schrott- und Pferdehandel, Betteln und Sozialhilfe über Wasser. Dabei werden sie ständig mit Polizeischikane und tätlichen Angriffen aufgebrachter Bürger konfrontiert, die um den Erhalt der Immobilienpreise in der Nachbarschaft von Traveller-Halteplätzen besorgt sind.

    Die Vorurteile der Gesellschaft spiegeln sich auch in den Schulen wieder. Lediglich ein Drittel der Traveller-Kinder ist auf staatlichen Schulen in die Klassen integriert, der Rest ist in "Sonderklassen" isoliert. Da Kultur und Lebensweise der Traveller im Ausbildungsplan für LehrerInnen nicht auftauchen, fehlt es oft am notwendigen Verständnis. Kein Wunder, daß von den zwölfjährigen Traveller-Kindern nur noch ein Sechstel die Schule besucht. Es gibt in Irland nur eine einzige Grundschule, die speziell für Traveller-Kinder eingerichtet wurde: St. Kieran's in Bray, südlich von Dublin. [...] Die Schule respektiert und fördert die Kultur und Lebensweise der Traveller, setzt sich aktiv für ihre Selbstbestimmung ein und erkennt vor allem die Traveller als ethnischen Gruppe an, die erhalten bleiben muß. Mit dieser Einstellung steht die Schule in Irland jedoch allein auf weiter Flur. (Anne Byrne, seit 1981 Lehrerin an der St. Kieran's School, die tageszeitung, 16. Mai)

  • [1994:] There was a community of travellers living in caravans in the area [of the author's childhood home in Dublin], and considering the ugly conflict between settled communities and travellers over the last few decades, it's noteworthy how close the travellers were to the working-class families in the area. When I was making my First Communion the local people collected money for clothes for the young travelling children who were making their Communion with us, and if some of the clothes ended up in the pawn before the great day was over, that was the common lot, too.

    Several of the travellers' families were very musical and had songs and instrumental skills handed down over generations - the Fureys, who lived beyond our back wall in Cook Street, being the perfect example. The Fureys made musical instruments, repaired caravans and did extraordinarily good art work, as well as practising and playing music non-stop. (Geraghty, Luke Kelly 33)

  • [1996:] The 1994 Criminal Justice Act made it virtually impossible [for] native gypsies to move around. The Act removed the obligation on councils to provide permanent sites for gypsies, thus forcing them on to the road. At the same time it ruled that any gathering of six or more vehicles in a field, wood or on a verge was a mass trespass which could result in three months in prison. [An] extended gypsy family with two lorries, two caravans, one trailer and a mobile toilet is now for the first time in modern British history breaking the criminal law when it pulls off the road.

    Meanwhile the European Court of Human Rights has upheld South Cambridgeshire District Council's decision to force a gypsy woman, Jane Buckley, out of a caravan she had parked on her own land. We are seeing, said Peter Mercer, a British gypsy leader, 'an attempt to destroy our culture and everything gypsies do'. (Nick Cohen, Observer, 1 Dec)

  • [1998:] Twelve travellers have spent the past four weeks being taught coppicing and greenwood skills in woodland owned by [Somerset] county council near Chard. They have learnt how to thin woodland in an environmentally sustainable way, and how to use the wood to make charcoal, furniture, thatching spars, marquee pegs, fences and gates. The purpose is to make them financially independent. [...] Travelling people traditionally survived by coppicing and hedge-laying, and today's travellers, though mostly born in cities, see themselves as reinventing that tradition by giving it a modern twist - using contemporary working trends to produce rural crafts. [...] The training scheme was started last year by the Friends, Families and Travellers Support Group, based in Glastonbury, at the request of the travellers. Four courses have been held and nearly two-thirds of the participants have since become self-employed, found work or started training. [...] People trained on the project could have a wider role to play in the countryside. Dairy farmer Robert Fry, whose fields adjoin the Somerset coppice, believes the travellers' greenwood skills are commercially unviable but could have other uses. He said: 'The public want the countryside to be managed and at the moment farmers have a double job [...]. If you take farmers away, who's going to look after and stop the land turning into a shambles? People like these could act as caretakers, although farming couldn't pay for them.'

    But not everyone sees the travellers' potential so clearly. The Somerset project caused antagonism in the nearby village of Coombe St Nicholas because locals felt they had not been consulted. The area has had a history of traveller occupation and there are two other camps, unrelated to the coppicing course, which are not welcome. Allan and Janet Byrne, who live opposite the greenwood site, are particularly concerned, even though they agree the course hasn't caused any problems. 'If you go and see the people they're really nice. If I was being cynical I would say they're nice because it's in their interest,' says Mr Byrne. 'Locals are very suspicious that might be a backdoor way of letting other travellers use the woods. I'm not sure that the scheme's realistic anyway. Who in their right mind is going to allow a bunch of travellers on their land to do coppicing when they could end up with squatters making a mess?'

    Views like these are challenged by Somerset county councillor David Gordon, who helped arrange the course. He says there is a shortage of skilled labourers prepared to carry out woodland work. 'As a council we may be perceived as being soft on travellers but the Conservative group spent £50,000 a year merely moving travellers on. We think it is more intelligent to tolerate them and to cooperate in training schemes such as this.' (Sara Hudston, Observer, 8 Mar)

Quelle: Scotland

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